Ask an Agent: My Kid Is at the House Alone

Dec 20, 2018

Kid home alone

Dear Kin:

Help! I left my child at home for the holidays with no adult supervision. What if he sets elaborate traps for burglars? What if he breaks everything? AM I COVERED?

Yours,
House Solitary

Dear House –

It’s a tale as old as time: you round up your sprawling family for an international holiday trip, only to realize with cold horror in your modest airplane seat that you have in fact left one of your children home. Alone.

House Solitary, don’t kick yourself too hard. This scenario is clearly ripped from an iconic holiday caper, but let’s do the thought experiment and see how home insurance might apply to some mischief only Kevin McCallister could cook up.

#1 Battle Plans

Sad but true, traps laid for trespassers (and the subsequent injuries they cause) aren’t covered. Though your home policy’s liability coverage can pay for bodily injuries others experience on your property, there’s a big caveat: it won’t cover injuries you (or your child) intentionally cause.

So, for example, pouring water on the porch steps to purposefully cause slips and falls is not be covered. Of course, it could be hard to prove the steps were purposefully ice covered, but let’s play it safe and not push our luck, right?

That said, the bandits could still sue you over the injuries, even if they incurred them while doing something illegal like trespassing on your property. This is dependent on where you live, but take note. The law is wild.

#2 A Christmas Party for Mannequins

Now let’s say your incredibly resourceful offspring rigs up mannequins and life-size cutouts of 90s basketball stars to make your otherwise abandoned home seem full of life. If these animated mannequins get too rambunctious, your home insurance likely won’t cover the damage to your property, but it depends on your policy.

The personal property coverage in your home insurance policy can cover common causes of damage to your belongings, including:

  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Windstorms
  • Fire

However, accidental damage is rarely covered. An exception may be if you opt to schedule your personal property, which can cover perils beyond the ones listed here.

#3 A Fire Caused by a Rigged Blowtorch

Let’s all take a moment to marvel the fact that Harry’s head tolerated that burn miraculously well. Yikes!

Now say your wily child managed to create a booby trap that caused a blowtorch to ignite when a door is opened. It’s safe to assume that fire might spread to the rest of the house. Would your insurance help out?

Not likely because the trap was intentional and well outside the normal use for a blowtorch in the home. Dwelling coverage can often pay for fire damage to a home, but only if that fire stems from normal use (think: an oven fire, a knocked-over candle – that kind of thing). So a fire that started because you misfired while using a blowtorch to make crème brûlée might be covered. A fire that started because of a maniacal scheme to injure a thief? Not so much.

And there you have it, folks. Stay safe out there and don’t leave your kids unattended this holiday season.